The retreat was at Posada Natura, a centre overlooking the river, a seething brown mass of water. A storm came through a few weeks back and washed masses of rocks and stones downriver, ripping out the land as it went. Thus we were treated to the sweet sound of diggers moving stones back along the river to shore up the land as we sat for our first meal of the retreat. It was a reassuring sound for the centre as so much land had been damaged close by.
Bedtimes were ridiculously early, by 8.20, not because we had to be but because I was on the struggle bus to keeping my eyes open. It meant waking at silly o’clock but having that quiet and time has been a real luxury on this holiday. My decent mattress obsession continued. After an initial ripple morning of stiff back from the mattress and then yoga at dawn to ease it, it was either keep being miserably stiff and carry on or improvise. So I doubled up on them, stealing the other bed’s mattress, thus becoming a pain-free princess without the pea-like rising loftily above the bed frame.
Day 2 was a full day proper and was about raising energy and getting aht into nature. ..innit. What this meant was me having a right grump on as we hiked for a owa up muddy tracks to waterfalls. It was huffing puffing work, and my default sweaty red-faced look swung back into action. As did my best Lil’ Miss Judgy brain…listening to the kids making friends, finding connections and good heavens, actually laughing (Although it was THE best laugh I’d heard in ages). Who were they kidding….? Grrrrrr….
This was a workout that needed a fry up to kickstart it, not a bloody fruit salad. On the plus side it was perfect weather to dehydrate on a hill, slightly overcast and not too hot.
To be truthful, the food was pretty impressive. Breakfast was a homemade chia pudding, fresh fruit, usually papaya and pineapple, homemade granola and flavoured fresh coconut milk, as well as occasional warm food. Lunch and dinner would have a large leafy salad, amazing and innovative dressings made of beetroot, avocado, mango and the like, then warm foods, beans, lentils, veggies like the chayote, a light green squash, avocado shaped, broccoli etc.
All were flavoured with spices and herbs so subtle, never overpowering just bringing out tastes in a fabulous way. Everything was used up, the leftovers appearing in soup, or made into fritters, empanadas or a new dish entirely. If you could eat like that every day you could easily be vegan. All that was missing was the coffee and I was missing the coffee too, well my head was, I had a stinker withdrawal headache which merely served to heighten my glorious mood I’d chosen to be in.
Somebody decided to brave the face that said ‘fuck off I’m trying to breathe’ and we started talking, or rather I panted out questions as we went. The South African had lived in London and we talked about home, her film making and her future project with the Dogon tribe in Mali. We spoke about her reasons for being at the retreat and Lil’ Miss Judgy brain also took a hike as I realised what an amazing woman she was with her film making and desire to share great stories of her home continent. Her film Soccer Grannies of South Africa is a wonderful story of strong African women, guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes!
Reaching the waterfall everyone pretty much got undressed and into the water. It looked so clear and pure, defiling it with my lardy pastiness would have been the wrong answer so I stayed put watching them dive in and a few of them braving the waterfall itself to climb higher up, to dive off. It really was a picturesque spot. But not picturesque enough to make me want to walk further up to the second waterfall, no thank you. I stayed put, stuffed with nori rolls and crudités.
Walking back I managed to stay more toward the front of the group, I think being front loaded with the weight distribution helped as it acted like a wee be weight pulled me downhill. Leading the charge there and back had been the lithe golden skinned American who lives in Peru running her own medicine centre. Quiet and reserved but in a ‘with it ‘ contained and gentle way, and not my bristly (literally -lack of bathroom lighting meant my inner werewolf was channeling through my chin), feral ‘leave me alone or I’ll bite’ way.
Heading back we were lucky to see monkeys peering out of the forest, nibbling on bamboo shoots, and a solitary red macaw. They’re pretty rare now, having been poached to sell as pets, but this one seemed at home up in the tree. The variety of wildlife is staggering, the birds, butterflies – we saw blue morphs butterflies with iridescent blue wings – difficult to photograph as when there wings are closed you only see a dull brown.
I was also graced with the luck of seeing two more wild scarlet macaws fly into the trees outside the cafe in Manuel Antonio on my return, as well, as see and hear two noisy toucans who hang out near the fell-a-flat place.
That afternoon we had myofascial release – basically, using tennis balls in ways you never thought possible. Apart from being whacked in the face by one you don’t really think of tennis balls causing pain but holy moly, rolling on those when they’re between your shoulders….but afterwards. …my shoulders dropped so they were less above my ears and closer to my h’actual earlobes.
I was in silent retreat mode for dinner, thankfully without the accompanying farts, being as the food was light on carbs. Actually I was pretty damned knackered from the hiking and headache, my little pity party for one rolled into an early night on my double mattresses bed and I conked out pretty quickly to the sound of the river making its way down stream through the mesh covered windows. Whilst I was glad to be here I was also feeling weirdly hormonal and vulnerable, and I needed to get myself a Hornby railway bridge and get over it.